Municipal pension measure gets tangled up in committee

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The plot thickened on Monday for a measure affecting local pensions after a Senate panel killed an amendment backed by police unions, writes Travis Pillow.

SB 2088 would fix a glitch in a measure approved last session intended to stop police and firefighters from inflating their pensions through “spiking.”

It would also give the cities more flexibility in negotiating retirement benefits with police and firefighter unions, but Sen. Jeremy Ring, D-Margate, tabled it after a divided Senate Community Affairs Committee declined an amendment removing those provisions.

Under current law, if cities negotiate benefits for police and firefighters below 1999 levels, they have to give up revenue from a tax on insurance premiums, though that interpretation of the statute is disputed by the Florida League of Cities.

The language Ring tried to remove would have allowed municipalities to keep receiving the revenue as long as police and firefighter unions agreed to any changes in benefits. Ring moved to postpone the committee vote after the amendment, supported by the Police Benevolent Association and the Fraternal Order of Police, went down on a 4-4 vote.

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Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including SaintPetersBlog.com, FloridaPolitics.com, ContextFlorida.com, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.